Campaigners win fight over ban on Welsh number plates

MOTORISTS will soon be able to display the dragon with pride, after the Government agreed to allow the Welsh flag to appear on number plates.

Plaid Cymru AM Janet Ryder has announced that Whitehall has finally agreed to demands from Wales to legalise the national flag on number plates and will change the rules within the next two months.

The decision comes after Mrs Ryder launched an online petition on St David’s Day calling on the Government to honour the pledge they made back in 2001, but never kept.

Mrs Ryder said: “This will mean that thousands of Welsh motorists who have voted with their feet on this matter and put Welsh flags on their number plates can now do so and stay on the right side of the law.”

The Department of Transport confirmed that “subject to the outcome of an informal consultation”, the revised regulations will come into force around the end of April 2009.

Mrs Ryder added: “I’m determined to keep the pressure up to make sure that the London Labour government keeps to its promise.

“It will mean that this St David’s Day is the last one when Welsh motorists will fly the flag illegally on their number plates.

“If the UK Government goes back on that promise, I will have no hesitation in pushing forward with the Legislative Competence Order to give the Assembly the powers to decide on this matter.”

Ken Thomas, a retired miner from Railway Terrace, Tir-phil, New Tredegar, was recently told by a policeman that the flag on his number plate was illegal and that he could be booked for it if he didn’t remove it.

The 65-year-old said: “Why am I allowed to put the European stars on it, but not the dragon? It’s not doing any harm.

“A lot of people I spoke to said they won’t take the dragon off their number plates regardless of the law and I agree with them – it’s our culture.

“I will go to court if needs be. They can send me to prison if they want but as soon as I get out I will just put another dragon on my number plates.”

However, when Wales on Sunday revealed to Mr Thomas that as of April, he could drive round legally with his Welsh flag number plates in tow, he was delighted.

He said: “I’m really chuffed because I’ve been fighting this for a while.

“I was in the mood to leave Wales because I was so fed up of being told I couldn’t have my flag on my number plates.

“I call myself a proper Welshman and it was upsetting me that I was not able to show that and stay true to myself so I’m just thrilled that I can do so now by displaying the dragon with pride.”

Tim Shallcross, Welsh spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, was also pleased to hear the news.

“This means us Welsh motorists who are proud of being Welsh can finally display our flag on our number plates, something which should have been implemented eight years ago and which people have since been prosecuted for,” he said.

“The original reason for stopping it was a fear that the Welsh number plates would be harder for speed cameras to read but the fact that you could still legally display the European flag made them reconsider the law.”

Mr Shallcross needs new number plates but plans to wait until April to change them so he can display the dragon on them.

He said: “Hopefully then I will be one of the first people to change it legally.”

A spokesman for the RAC foundation added: “The car is often a symbol of pride for the owner and very much their own personal space.

“If they want to express their identity in a safe and legal manner, such as by displaying their national flag on theie number plates, then this should be welcomed.”

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